If you were looking for lopsided losses and dominant play from the Eastern side of the SEC, well it was pretty much your kind of day, besides in Lexington. Though there wasn’t multiple conference games played on Saturday, some teams ended showing out in a big time way.
As Missouri took the field against SE Missouri State, they were looking to get this offense back on track, coming off the loss to Kentucky last weekend. Yes, Connor Bazelak played well against the Wildcats, but they left a lot of opportunities on the field in Lexington. In all honesty, the Tigers should already have an SEC win on the books, but just couldn’t capitalize on the mistakes. So, they took out some offensive frustrations today against the in-state foe. Bazelak threw for 346 yards and 3 touchdowns, while his defense held their opponent to 53 yards passing. The Tigers ended up winning 59-28 and will now focus their attention on a trip to Boston College, who are now 3-0 after the win over Temple Saturday. Missouri should be favorites over BC, but this game could define the season early on, as they can’t afford another loss before entering SEC play again.
As we travel East to Knoxville, the Vols were looking to get their offense rolling, without Joe Milton, who had started the previous two games. Josh Heupel decided to roll with Hendon Hooker on Saturday afternoon, as Milton was still dealing with a lower body injury. It was one of those days where even though Tennessee put up a lot of points, the offense still has a lot of work to do. Hendon Hooker finished the game with 199 yards passing, along with 64 yards rushing, finishing the day with 4 touchdowns. His overall presence was good, but the offense doesn’t seem to move as quick with him at quarterback. Now, this is obviously something they will continue to work on, as Heupel liked the decisiveness of his QB.
The biggest surprise from the Vols has been the defense. But next week, the Vols are heading to a place that never treats them well, and that’s Gainesville. After the Gators put up a profound performance against Alabama Saturday, they looked like a team that will give the Vols all kinds of problems. But, if Tennessee can get consistent QB play, then maybe they could make it a close game in “The Swamp.” Either way, it will all depend on how this offense plays. A big game next week in the East.
Let’s head north to Lexington, where the Wildcats were in a fight with Chattanooga. Yes, you read that right, the Mocs gave Kentucky everything they wanted, and then some. The problem for Kentucky this season will be not establishing the run game. Chris Rodriguez Jr. had only 46 yards rushing, on 13 attempts, which won’t win you many games this season. The Wildcats have themselves a QB in Will Levis, who passed for 254 yards today and 2 touchdowns. But he also threw 2 interceptions, which kept Chattanooga in the game for all four quarters. This performance wasn’t what I expected from a Kentucky team that beat Missouri last weekend. But if you can’t block upfront, you’re bound to run into problems like today. The Cats head to South Carolina next weekend, looking to shake-off whatever that performance today was. If they don’t figure out the running game, they’ll give South Carolina every chance in the world to win.
Alright, going South to Athens. Georgia was favored by 31.5 points according to FanDuel.com and the oddsmakers were right. South Carolina could not get past the daunting Georgia defense, which was expected. The Dawgs are so powerful on the front seven, which caused multiple problems for the Gamecocks. Luke Doty passed for 153 yards, 1 TD and 1 INT, while the team only rushed for 96 yards. In his return, JT Daniels did not disappoint, going 23-3 for 303 yards and 3 TD’s. If you’re a Georgia fan, you have to like what you saw from both sides of the ball. But also know they must cut back on the turnovers, having 3 on Saturday. Things won’t get much harder for the Dawgs next week, as they travel to Vanderbilt, which should make them 2-0 in the SEC, with Arkansas coming to town. As for South Carolina, they’ll host Kentucky next week, hoping to regroup and give the Wildcats a fight. Oh, Will Muschamp also got a win against his former team on Saturday.
Back north in Nashville, Vanderbilt hosted Stanford, looking to build off the win at Colorado State. It looked like the Dores would hang tough for a while, but the 2nd quarter saw Stanford extend its lead to 27-14. Surprisingly, Vandy had rushed for over 200 yards on the night, but couldn’t get anything going through the air, having only 120 yards passing at the 1:44 mark of the 4th quarter. Going 5-18 on 3rd down won’t win you many games, as seen tonight. Stanford finished off Vandy, 41-23. Simply put, it looked like last week was a fluke. It doesn’t get any easier for the Dores, as Georgia comes to town next week, most likely bringing 20K of their own fans. It’s going to be a long season for Clark Lea.
For a complete breakdown of Florida’s hard fought performance against Alabama, give GLENN GUILBEAU’s column a read.
Stay tuned tomorrow, as point spreads will be released from FanDuel.com for week 4 in the SEC.